Most individuals with cleft lip (CL), cleft palate (CP), or cleft lip and palate (CLP), as well as many individuals with other craniofacial anomalies, require the coordinated care of providers in many fields of medicine (including otolaryngology) and dentistry, along with that of providers in speech pathology, audiology, genetics, nursing, mental health, and social medicine.
Treatment of orofacial cleft anomalies requires years of specialized care and is costly. The average lifetime medical cost for treatment of one individual affected with CLP is $100,000. Although successful treatment of the cosmetic and functional aspects of orofacial cleft anomalies is now possible, it is still challenging, lengthy, costly, and dependent on the skills and experience of a medical team. This especially applies to surgical, dental, and speech therapies.
Because otitis media with effusion is very common among children with CP, involvement of an otolaryngologist in the multidisciplinary treatment plan is very important. The otolaryngologist performs placement of ventilation tubes in conjunction with the CP repair. If a concurrent CL is present, the ventilation tubes are placed during that repair. Many of these children see otolaryngologists well beyond the time they see many of the other specialists because some children continue to have eustachian tube dysfunction after their palates are closed.